Students serve, connect through Appalachia’s WorkFest
What: Service trip to Appalachia

Who: Seven students, sponsored by Social Action Leadership Team

When: Spring break 2010

Quotable: “The people were very generous and very appreciative of what we were doing for them. And they really cared that we were there. My homeowner started crying when we left, because she didn’t want us to leave. It was nice to see how much our work was appreciated and how much need there truly is where we were.”  Sarah Dyke, education major

The Christian Appalachian Project brought seven Valparaiso University students to Eastern Kentucky for spring break 2010. Camp Andrew Jackson in Jackson County, Ky., was the students’ base of operations. They worked with fellow volunteers from a number of different colleges and universities, met region residents, explored historical sites and learned about the culture and music of Appalachia.

As part of WorkFest, the students took part in an annual program to repair and build homes for those in need in the region. About 400 student volunteers took part in all during March 2010.

The daily routine included pounding nails, interior and roof work, sawing, and putting in windows.

“At first I was apprehensive about coming on this trip because construction and me don’t mix very well,” said Melissa Kariger, who majors in political science and professional writing. “But I really had a good time. I feel like my crew leaders really challenged me, and it was one of those experiences where I was able to do things that I never expected to be able to do, like put in windows. It was cool to find myself challenged by this experience.”

Fun activities included group songs, skits and presentations at the end of the week, bonfire gathering and music from a local acoustic duo.

“It’s good to learn philosophy and theology, but it’s another thing to put it into practice,” said Chris Stohs, a history and German major. “That was definitely emphasized here, the theory and the practice. I think that the Christian Appalachian Project - this sort of project would be good for any Valpo student to learn how to serve. There is a joy in service.”